A well-planned garden is a rewarding hobby that can be done all year long.
With good soil, the proper tools, and the know-how, anyone can have a stress-free garden that will either feed your family or wow your neighbors.
If you are growing a botanical garden or ornamental garden, then make sure you know the hardiness zone that you are in. This will make sure that you get plants that will last through the winter and for years to come.
To grow healthy plants, you need healthy soil, and healthy soil starts with organic material. The organic material in the soil will help to feed worms and their casting will help to feed your plants.
It will also help keep the soil from becoming too compacted, and it will decompose, feeding your plants.
A compost pile can help add beneficial microbes and nutrients to the soil. It can be made with food scraps, plant trimmings, and any plant matter from your garden and yard.
Cover crops are good for preventing soil erosion, and weed control, but they can also add organic matter to the soil and replenishes nutrients.
The pH of the soil is vital to the success of any garden because it affects the number of nutrients in the soil that can be dissolved in water.
A pH soil test kit and pH meters can be purchased at gardening retailers, home improvement retailers, and online retailers.
2. PLANT LABELS
When you’re starting a garden, labeling each plant with its name will be helpful when they are growing. Plant labels can help you distinguish between similar plants, for example, picking peppermint leaves instead of mint leaves.
There is a variety of different plant labels on the market that are made from metal, wood, or plastic that can be purchased at gardening retailers, home improvement retailers, and online retailers.
The metal and wood labels are recommended because of the longevity of the metal and the ability of wood to decompose. Also when plastic breaks down, it turns into microplastics that will get into the soil and then your food.
3. SEED STARTING TRAYS
When it comes to planting your garden, one of the most practical and cost-effective ways to start the growing season is indoors. Although peat pots can be a good choice, they can also be expensive and are not eco-friendly.
Jiffy pots, on the other hand, are biodegradable and can be planted directly in the soil. While many gardeners tear off the bottom or sides of the fiber pots to allow for easy drainage, they should be buried below the soil’s surface.
Another option is cow pots which are made from pressed cow manure.
Repurposing cardboard egg cartons is also a good option for starting seedlings and is cost-effective.
4. RAISED GARDEN BEDS
A raised garden bed is best made with cedar wood because it doesn’t rot, but you can also use pressure-treated wood.
The issue with pressure-treated wood is that they are treated with chemicals and toxins that you don’t want in your garden.
Concrete is becoming a popular option that is more costly the using wood, but it will last much longer and is harder to tear down if needed.
Bricks or rocks are more cost-effective than concrete and have a natural look that can help them blend in with a home.
Stock tanks are used to feed farm animals, but they can be repurposed as raised garden beds. They are inexpensive, moveable, come in different sizes, and are made from galvanized steel.
There are also many different options for purchasing a premade garden bed that can be purchased at any garden center, home improvement store, and online retailers.
You can create pathways through the raised beds by laying down a weed barrier such as mulch and using vinegar for any weeds that do make it through.
Just put some in a spray bottle and directly spray the weeds, you should see results within a few hours.
If needed, soil can be purchased, and then you can add of plenty organic matter to it, this can be another helpful method if you don’t have a compost pile.
5. THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE RIGHT JOB
There is a suitable tool for the right job, for example, a pointed shovel is better for digging than a flat shovel which is made for scooping and spreading.
There are several different kinds of tools that are needed in the garden, but when purchasing a new tool, make sure it is of good quality.
Buying low-quality tools will cost you more in the long run and it is frustrating when a tool breaks while using it.
A garden should have a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs but they will have different watering needs and that is where a water meter will come in handy.
They use a scale of 1 – 10 to let you know how moist or dry the soil is so you can put the number on the plant label or garden map if you are using them.
No matter the method used, a water meter is handy for getting to your plant’s watering needs.
If you find yourself short on time or just too tired to water, there are options. There are several different kinds of irrigation timers on the market to choose from.
They range from $15 to about $350 depending on how much technology you want in the device.
Having at least one water spicket close to the garden will help to reduce the need for long lengths of hose that will eventually need to be replaced.
The main issue with hand-watering a sizeable garden is that most people under-water when using this method.
It is also common for the area that was started to be watered more than the area that was done last.
For this method, a watering wand is recommended because of the extended easy-grip handle.
Some wands are not adjustable and will shower the plants but they also give you the ability to change to a stream, shower, or mist.
Drip irrigation systems utilize low pressure to deliver a drip, spray, or stream of water to a specific area.
These kits include a backflow preventer, pressure regulators, filters, flexible tube fitting, stakes, emitters, and tools for making the system.
If you want, most of the system can be covered up by a thin layer of dirt or mulch.
This method of watering uses the least amount of water by giving it to a specific small area where the roots are located instead of the whole garden or raised garden bed.
This watering system will last about three years depending on the amount of sun exposure and the quality.
An underground or aboveground sprinkler system is ideal for large gardens but any system can also work with small gardens.
When using it with a small garden, keep in mind the water requirements of the plants being grown.
This method of watering uses the most water but the underground system is the most carefree especially when used with a timer.
With this system, it retracts into the ground saving time by not having to set out and pick up sprinkler systems.
With the aboveground system, the sprinklers and hoses should be put away after each use to avoid sun damage.
7. PREPARE FOR PEST
Preparing your garden for pests starts with plants that deter pests as well as using plants that attract predators of pests by using companion planting to not take up valuable space.
Other natural and effective methods for pest control are essential oils, diatomaceous earth, and homemade insecticidal soap.
Pest control we always are an ongoing battle, so having a variety of different methods as well as enough of the product on hand is essential.
8. WEED CONTROL
Like pest control, weed control is a constant task that needs to happen, but it doesn’t need to be a chore of pulling them by hand. Yes sometimes this needs to be done but there are other easier methods.
For a food garden, covering crops that hug the ground is a good method because they keep them from growing. Using cover crops will also help to put organic matter into the soil when tilled.
In areas like walking paths, vinegar can be sprayed on the ground to kill any weeds.
For botanical gardens, vinegar is also suggested for weed control in certain areas because of its natural ability to eradicate weeds quickly with its acidity of the vinegar.
While using vinegar to control weeds, only the uppermost surface of the soil needs vinegar because the roots of weeds are shallow.
When used around bushes or well-established plants with deep roots, the vinegar will not get deep into the soil and affect the plant.
9. Choosing a variety of plants
When you start your garden, choosing a variety of plants is crucial to the success of your efforts. Many varieties have specific requirements when it comes to space, sunlight, watering needs, and soil conditions.
Therefore, you should consider your climate, sunlight, and soil conditions before choosing your plants.
A great place to start is the seed catalog where most varieties come with descriptions of their growth characteristics, including sun exposure and water needs.